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Emma Mantooth’s Homegrown Sense of Philanthropy

By Emma Mantooth

My family’s history in Colorado stretches back to the 1800s, with miners who tried their luck in Victor and farmers who put down roots in Yuma. Born in Denver and raised in Thornton, my family made it a point that my sisters and I grew up with an appreciation for the state we lived in. Annual pilgrimages to the yellow fields of Yuma, travelling to Colorado Springs to visit the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, spending days at Gilpin Elementary School in Denver where my father taught and making occasional road trips to places like the Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde and Vail constituted a big part of my childhood

As I grew older, I discovered a passion for helping people. In high school, some friends and I developed a program which brought groups of high school students to volunteer at a local nursing home. Consequently, my first brush with philanthropy was in 2016, when we received an “Innovate for Good” grant from the Rose Community Foundation, which we used to fund efforts to expand our program. Later, I decided to attend college at Western Colorado University, where I studied Communication Arts and Spanish in hopes of finding a place in the nonprofit or philanthropic sectors as a communications professional. Here, I discovered a region that thrived on a culture of giving. I spent plenty of my free time throughout those four years volunteering, interpreting, interning and working with local organizations across the Gunnison Valley.

It was the support of these organizations and their leaders that allowed me to discover my passions and strengths. Reminders of these Coloradans and their encouragement still permeate my life. The violin I play in the afternoon comes from the kindness of a professor who saw potential in me. I still have the fraying notebooks I was gifted during my time as a grantee on my bookshelf. My worn hiking boots remind me of the people who pushed me up difficult trails, both literally and figuratively. Now, in my role as a Fellow with El Pomar Foundation, I have the opportunity to give back to communities that helped me along my journey by advocating for the courageous Coloradans who give their time and energy to make Colorado better. I am thrilled by the chance to return the favor to the state that has enhanced, encouraged and promoted my personal well-being throughout my life.

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